By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 18, 2002
[Photo by Emily Reily]
HAMPTON — A previously unnamed park on Reddington Landing was dedicated Friday to the memory of a Hampton man killed during the Vietnam War.
During a short but emotional ceremony Friday afternoon, the children's park was named in honor of Steven J. Philbrick, who was killed in action in Vietnam on June 6, 1969, just four months into his first tour of duty.
Ralph Fatello, Commander of Hampton American Legion Post 35, characterized Philbrick as just a Hampton youth who found himself in extraordinary circumstances.
"I did not know Steven, but I knew a lot of people like him," said Fatello, who served in Vietnam himself. "Steven was a typical 19-year-old kid from Hampton, if he was anything like the young kids who served under me. He was a brave Marine who fought and died in the Vietnam War so others could enjoy the freedoms we enjoy today."
Philbrick was born on Oct. 4, 1949, graduated from Winnacunnet High School in 1968 and joined the United States Marine Corps. He began a tour of duty on Feb. 14, 1969. On June 6, 33 years ago this month, Philbrick was killed in action in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. on Panel 23W Row 91.
Among the 100 people who attended the dedication ceremony was Don Philbrick, Steven's father. "I'm very proud of Steven, of all my children, and proud that so many people turned out today," said Mr. Philbrick, who fathered seven children, three boys and four girls.
The Winnacunnet High School Jr. ROTC color guard began the ceremony. Cadet 1st Sgt. Cheryl Henderson, Cadet Gunnery Sgt. Mike Armstrong, Cadet Gunnery Sgt. Katrina McLean, and Cadet 2nd Lt. Logan Kenney presented the colors.
Speakers included Dyana Lassonde, director of the Hampton Parks and Recreation Department, Town Manager James Barrington, retired USMC Col. Paul Lessard, Dan Nersesian, whose brother was a schoolmate of Steven Philbrick at Winnacunnet, Steven's brother Jeff and Fatello.
Lassonde recalled Philbrick's years at Winnacunnet High School, where he was on the track team and played football. Summers, the young Philbrick worked for the town recreation department.
Nersesian also recalled when his own brother Bob and Steven Philbrick were in high school.
"They became good friends very quickly," Nersesian said, recalling that when they were seniors, both Steven and Bob decide to enlist in the Marine Corps.
The two friends and another, Pat Hogan, were all sent to Vietnam. "Pat was wounded and sent home. I was in school when the news (of Steven's death) came. Bobby spent many more months in combat, and when he came home, he went right over to the Philbricks' house... This is a great thing we are doing for the children of Hampton today." Jeff Philbrick asked only that his brother "he remembered in death for what he was in life."
One of the visitors, Peter Simmons of North Hampton, works with Don Philbrick. Simmons found himself in Vietnam the same time the younger Philbrick was there.
"I was in Vietnam the same day Steven died. We were just south of Quang Tri. I remember it like it was yesterday," said Simmons.
"I later got to know Don in life and we've been great friends ever since." The bronze-on-granite plaque in front of the small park, unveiled by Lassonde and Don Philbrick, reads:
in memory of
Steven J. Philbrick